Monday 27 September 2021

A Golden Afternoon. Farewell to A Golden Summer. 2021.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.

 A cornfield in July. It was during this time, in mid July, on a solo Kilpatrick walk of this range that I noticed this field of corn ( wheat or barley, not sure which) and it was unusual enough to stop me in my tracks and divert to here on the way off the hills. Fields of corn like this one are very common on the drier east coast of Scotland but rare for the last few decades on the usually rain soaked west coast. However with a long term spring and summer forecast of fine sunny conditions this farmer planted out several fields and trusted to luck. This sight took me right back to my childhood when we did get wheat and barley fields on the west, pre common market and links with Europe, although mostly the rolling green fields around the area where I grew up held the traditional image of  black and white dairy cattle munching the lush grass.  We did have three or four fields of golden corn though and a few scattered hay meadows with a line of neatly stacked bales at harvest time, something else you rarely see in the west these days where it can rain on and off for weeks at a time, as it's doing currently.

 I filed this information away in my head and a month later, in mid August, I returned with Anne for a late afternoon/evening walk. Although not officially a heatwave it was warm enough to avoid the mid day temperatures in favour of a late afternoon/ early evening, more relaxing local stroll so we parked here just above Old Kilpatrick. As you can see flowers displays were at their best by then...

and grassy verges were at their tallest and most luxuriant.  A sea of meadowsweet here. In the days of old medieval castles servants used to gather these and other blooms like dog rose, and lavender...

each with a beautiful, completely natural, scent to spread across the noble lord and ladies bedchambers. Even today, with a bewildering range of elaborate expensive perfumes on offer few scents can compare with the simple beauty of wild dog rose. Meadowsweet smells like marzipan when crushed between the fingertips which is a great deal nicer underfoot than the usual lived in year round medieval castle smells I'd imagine.

 A colourful mix of clover in the verges.  The last three photos are completely natural banking/ grass verges on the edge of minor roads/paths/ farm tracks on the way to Duntocher yet they seem to retain a year after year balance of blooms. Every year they come up on cue and are not smothered out by other weeds/ flowers. I mention this because the deliberately sown wildflower grass strips/ meadows in parks and on roundabouts seem to lack that natural balance and most fail to match that first year spectacular flourish, often completely drowned out and smothered by competing weeds by the second year/summer to the extent that they disappear altogether. Every time we think we are masters of the world and understand the recipe how to create things.... nature puts us firmly in our place. We ain't cracked it yet.

 The walk we picked from the Old Kilpatrick car park was one section of the Clyde Coastal Path which is a multi day hike along the Clyde Coast but also part of a greater long distance foot path from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to the Mull of Galloway in South West Scotland. This much shorter walk of a couple of hours duration running on farm tracks and minor paths through scenic countryside, leads into the village of Duntocher, up and over Goldenhill, then back along A82 (Great Western Road) in a circular fashion.

 Most of the folk leaving this car park head straight uphill to bag the hill summits, myself included in the past, but as we found out this time the lower walks, especially in spring and summer, are equally pleasant.


The Clyde Coastal Path skirts the edge of this hill range on a broad farm track at first, passing three large corn fields....


Still not sure if this is wheat or barley. Did look the difference up online but unless I had both examples side by side to compare I'm not willing to commit so let's just call it golden corn.


Whatever it was the wood pigeons seemed to like it and we startled a bunch of them as we walked past, sending them skyward with a guilty thunderclap of escaping wings. 

" This reminds me of the Wizard of Oz for some reason yet I don't remember wheat fields in that, only dark woods, dust bowls, and flying monkeys. I'll be Dorothy.then, shall I? ....seeing as how you are usually Ra, the sun god."

"Nope, I'm also Dorothy", I corrected her. "Cos I'm always Dorothy since the earliest days of this blog. " You can still be ancient Isis though. Look it up if you don't believe me. March 2014 blog back issue. I am Dorothy and I live in Oz."

"Oh,  I never read your blog." she informed me airily, with a smile. " I just skim though the photos now and again. Once a year or so. It's far too wordy for me. Blah, blah blah, I did this, I did that, yap, yap yap...etc...."


"Yes, and I'm very proud of it, imposter... get back to trouser duty and hand over that dress Kevin Wendell Crumb."

 Perfection in a flower. Incidentally, the centre of this reminds me of a jelly mold my mum had in the kitchen. Jelly and ice cream or jelly and fruit or just jelly was an occasional summer treat I had, made in a mold of thick glass/ crystal then put in the fridge to cool and set. Exact same shape and colour of the finished jelly although I preferred the tangerine colour/flavoured one. Come to think of it not had jelly since 13 or 14 along with home baked apple pie, certain cakes, rice pudding and semolina. Stuff you only make for children or get as a child yourself along with all the other things parents usually do, mostly without thanks or much gratitude at the time, from their largely self obsessed offspring. Did notice a difference though when both went out to work and I graduated to being a latchkey kid. Bye bye jelly and puddings.... forever. I could have easily bought and made all these things myself of course but I was too lazy or uninspired to make them and never got around to it since so I'm not that much of a Dorothy, after all. Total failure as a female in fact. I did think however 'what inspired someone to make a glass or hard plastic mold in that exact same shape as that flower?.' Just a stray coincidence?

Apart from fighting over who would be Dorothy- I got demoted to Toto in the end ( the dog!) this walk was a revelation, much better than I'd imagined it would be. Partly because it was a lovely T-shirt warm afternoon and partly due to a continuous, easy to follow, path filled with summer flowering verges and a wide variety of changing landscapes.

Common Red Soldier Beetles mating.

The walk led us past Clydebank Crematorium by a back entrance, and at this time of day it was peaceful and quiet. 

No-one there at all apart from early evening sunlight and us.

 Both my parents were cremated here although their ashes are scattered elsewhere- down the Clyde coast on the low tideline, with a panoramic view of the islands. This crematorium is a lovely spot though - especially on a glorious sunny late summer evening.

 Next came the church at Duntocher with its elegant simple lines and white archway entrance.

Then the walk up nearby Goldenhill, once a prominent Roman fort on a defensive wall that stretched across the Central Belt of Scotland unbroken from coast to coast.  Even today, a good viewpoint, over the local area. Looking back at the end of the Kilpatrick Hills here and a part of Duntocher.

Roman Fort and Antonine Wall info sign on Goldenhill. The furthest flung frontier of the empire for troops stationed here. The end of the semi civilized world for them and a dangerous one with savage, largely unconquered, hostile tribes on the other side of it.

 View over to Drumchapel water tower and hi flats across open farmland from Goldenhill.

Duntocher with Faifley behind from Goldenhill. Although I've not done the first section of this walk at all I have been up here before, several times, mainly on cold grey winter days as I recall. I was not that impressed back then. This time a combination of high summer growth, my cheery, always funny companion, and beautiful weather gave it a very different outlook. Just shows how things can influence your judgement of a place as we both really enjoyed it this time.

The view from Goldenhill looking south over Clydebank. From the summit flagpole we headed directly south across the grassy summit where there is a small opening off the hill leading between rows of neat low residential housing and high flats in the direction of Clydebank.

This is a view from the bottom looking up with Goldenhill hidden above. It's easy to find a route down through this area to here from the top of the hill as there's only one obvious route down. Much harder going up unless you know the way. For this reason I'd suggest you do the walk, if you fancy it, the same way we did it as it's much easier to find the paths then.  The rest of the walk is straightforward. You follow the main  A 82 pavement west through Clydebank past the Auchentoshan Distillery to the very end of this right side of the road pavement where a path under and through trees leads back to the farm track and car park. A couple of easy hours duration but you could extend it by continuing along the route of the Antonine Wall past Drumchapel to Bearsden ( by using two obvious train stations start and finish) or cut down to do a section of the Forth and Clyde canal as a larger circular walking route.

 A new walk for Anne and a mostly new walk for me.



Friday 17 September 2021

Titan Crane. John Brown's Shipyard Site. Clydebank's New Waterfront Development.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


What a difference a year can make during a pandemic. For almost a year I've been unable to cycle due to an arm and shoulder injury. (caused by heavy lifting of concrete slabs not a bike crash) I'm aware people do cycle one armed but I thought with covid dominating hospitals I would play it safe and stick to walking until it healed as if I did fall off and instinctively tried to save myself with my arms it would only injure it further, maybe permanently. Anyway, it has healed and I've started going out cycling again in the autumn. Not a long ride but a pleasant one. Cycling through Knightswood Park first, see above  and below..... 

On a glorious autumnal morning....

Past these tall poplars....

then along the Forth and Clyde Canal....

Bindweed, Always a flower I associate with an end of season warmth passing into colder evenings as Ra's waning power diminishes daily at this time of year in the north. A white herald scattered along the path at intervals, a trumpet shaped sign of cool morning mists and colder days ahead.

Still warm enough at midday though to work up a sweat on the bike.

 and still warm enough to attract flies. A green-bottle here. A veggie lover compared to its dead flesh/rotten meat seeking cousin the blue-bottle.

 The canal brought me out at the modern Clydebank College. or to give it its proper title... 

West College Scotland... which tells you bugger all about where it's located which is why I prefer Clydebank College... and still prefer 'actress' instead of 'actor.' for that same reason. Why make life more complicated than it already is? If you can switch it one way then why not the other? Brad Pitt- Actress. Tom Hanks -Actress. Makes perfect sense to be interchangeable in 2021. Now that's acting! Personally, I prefer not to have a given name at all and wish to be known henceforth as 'Amorphous Blob' for convenience purposes.

The River Clyde at this point is wide and pleasant and 'amorphous blob' drifted out across the water needing neither boat nor kayak to explore the surface. How convenient is that for a human.... I have spotted seals, otters and a porpoise here on other visits.

 Meanwhile the real me... not 'He, I, Their, or Them' enjoyed a pleasant surprise or two. On previous visits the waterfront promenade extended a short distance from West College around to the Titan Crane.... where it ended. 

 One hundred and sixty foot high (49 metres) and capable in its prime of lifting 150 to 200 tons of material into ships it stood surrounded by other lighter cranes as part of John Brown's Shipyard and engineering works. At the time it was built the world's largest cantilever crane as one fifth of the world's ships started life in the River Clyde shipyards back then, the biggest vessels, like the QE2, being launched right here at a wide point on the riverbank.. This substantial land area beyond the crane was normally out of bounds to the general public, surrounded by a high red brick wall enclosing many buildings and a sizable chunk of waterfront property but now it's all open plan and easy to access on foot or bike.

Looking back at West College from the Titan Crane.

 A wide promenade now exists here...

 and a new green energy heating system...

Along with rows of new housing blocks, still being constructed...

Like these higher apartments. Close up, I was impressed by the complexity of the scaffolding, ladders, planks and stairs surrounding this new build.

Also impressed by the new plant borders. Maybe because it was an autumnal arrangement but it seemed to have a very different colour palette from most borders I've seen with yellow and bright red missing. 

The bees loved it anyway, loads of them here... and something I do not remember seeing before. Two bees fighting, locked together in fierce battle.... or mating... couldn't decide which at the time... but I took the opportunity of getting a really close view point. Six inches away from the action.

If a bee was suddenly eight foot tall it would be a formidable adversary. Solidly build wee creature. The  Grizzly Bear of the insect world.

Newly built housing with Radnor Park Flats behind.

Looking further down the River Clyde towards the Golden Jubilee Hospital, Research, and Conference Facility. Presumably, at some point, the waterfront promenade might extend down to here, unbroken. Already a new section has been built from the Titan Crane running towards Dalmuir. See above photo for the line of white poles.

So this brand new walkway was a recent addition I couldn't resist following out of curiousity. From the end of this tarmac path you can head inland across flat waste ground to pick up more tarmac in the form of an empty road, making a large rectangular walk across open ground which was out of bounds before.

This is it here. Waste ground is never waste ground in my eyes though. It has many useful purposes, wildlife and wild flower reserve... Local green space for walking and enjoyment...Teenager hangout...

 Or just someplace semi wild and free to get away from the crowds within an urban environment yet still discover the wonders of nature from childhood on-wards right on your doorstep.... so I hope they do not build houses on all our precious green spaces and leave some brown urban sites untouched. Like this one.... Unsung yet still extremely valuable, even in this present form.

From the end of the tarmac this narrow path leads along the river downstream  and still, after all this time and countless years, I get a kick out of exploring any new patch of land I find. It's a mystery where this goes but as I'd had enough excitement for one day in the saddle I promised myself I would return later. 


Looking in the other direction along the path. Terra incognita for me. Some might require an expensive trip to a foreign land to seek out adventure but luckily, these days, with limited expectations and income, I can get that same buzz of excitement in my own back yard. This Dalmuir Serengeti awaits me and invites me in. A happy occurrence indeed.

A link here to what the end product might look like in a few years time and a photo of the shipyard in question with the QE2 being built in the late 1960s. 

Titan Crane info. Panoramic views from the top when it's open.